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I am currently learning about EBD's in my Special Education class. We have discussed the reality of EBD's and strategies in dealing with it in the classroom, but I would be interested in hearing about first-hand experiences from teachers in the field. Any stories or advice you can share with a future teacher who may work with students with EBD's? Things you have implemented that worked or didn't work?

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I taught students with EBD when I was a first year teacher also and continued for 4 years before I was moved out of my position by another teacher whose unit closed. Anyway, I think what I found to be successful is be consistent, be firm, be caring, and show an interest in the student for who they are. In other words, no matter how bad a day, no matter how they may be at their worst, never give up on them, accept them unconditionally, let them know you care but you're also disappointed and that tomorrow is another day to try again. 

These students feel they have very little control in their life, even if it appears they "run the show", they don't feel they do. It is important to give back some of their control by always allowing them choices. They have to learn to make good choices. When they have a 'behavior slip" they expect the worse and they become defensive and soon are in a spiral which is hard to get out of. By staying calm, firm, and understanding, and talking to them as mature young people, they will respond. They need to talk when they are angry and they need a way to save face. 

I was always one for using a level behavior system where there are four to six levels the students work through, each requiring more stringent self-control but with bigger pay offs and privileges. If they had a slip in behavior they started over. Once they were able to hold their points for several months, they were ready to move out to what was called a standard class. Here they were able to go out to gen ed classes with their EBD classroom as base. This system also used a token economy so the students used their points to buy snacks and things. 

But I think what worked best was my tremendous abundance of patience, my absolute refusal to give up on even the worst of students, the unconditional acceptance I had for all of them, and my genuine interest in who they were, what they're interests were, and my willingness to listen to them without judging them. 

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